The Ex-Wall Streeter's Guide to Recession Rides

Instead of: a 2009 Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic wagon, consider: a 2009 Mercedes-Benz R350 4Matic

There is no doubt that the Mercedes-Benz E-class wagon is the reigning queen of America's toniest suburbs, a fact of which your lovely wife is keenly aware. There are practical reasons to own it as well, such as its seating for seven (in a pinch) and its all-wheel drive - just the thing for when the snow starts to fly this time of year. But if you're willing to give up the E-class wagon's classic proportions, the R-class provides essentially the same virtues at a relatively bargain price - perhaps even more of a bargain than the sticker suggests, as your Mercedes-Benz retailer likely will be more willing to negotiate on an R-class. Thanks to the prominent three-pointed star on the grille, though, only those who've had their noses deep in the dealer ads in the back of the Sunday paper will ever know that you're economizing. It's not like the R-class is some downsized thing; and its size is every bit as imposing as the E350's. Seating is for six, rather than seven, but the third row is much more usable, and everyone gets to face forward. All-wheel drive is available here as well, so it's just as capable come the first Nor'easter.

E350 4Matic wagon: $58,125

R350 4Matic: $48,525

Savings: $9600

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